The Internet has changed many facets of life, including education. Learning in an online environment is a rewarding and exciting way to broaden students’ experiences, especially with innovations like simulation software.
Many students are opting for an online learning experience. According to a 2014 data brief from the U.S. Department of Education, online postsecondary enrollment has been increasing “rapidly.” These results make sense, as online learning is a viable and convenient option for many students.
However, there are certain guidelines that students and professors need to abide by in order to make the online learning experience successful. Here are five tips to help students become more engaged in online learning:
1. Foster independence: Becoming self-motivated is vital for the online learning experience to succeed. Have your students ask themselves why they want to learn in the first place and write the answers down. This can let them know what their objectives are and create goals that they can work toward. Also remind students that they need to be in an environment that’s quiet and undisturbed. Turning off a cellphone and keeping Internet surfing to a minimum (unless it’s for research) are excellent ways to keep a student focused and ready to learn.
2. Encourage classmates to work together: As important as self-motivation is in academia and careers, working on a team is a large part of the online learning experience. This allows students to gain insight into different perspectives and come up with solutions they hadn’t thought of previously. Sharing knowledge is also easy to do with peer evaluation technology. Developing great communication skills is one of the key tenets of making online learning work, and one of the best ways to do this is having students communicate with one another.
3. Give tools for time management: Students will need to manage their time wisely in order to be academically successful, which is something that will carry over into their professional careers as well. Encourage your students to establish time outside of class that is dedicated to studying. Keeping an updated calendar on a smartphone with push notifications can also allow students to manage time for studying and remind them when class is about to begin.
4. Create clear communication portals: Instructors need to make it a priority to be there for their students when they have questions about course material. It’s easy for students to fall behind in online courses, so be sure to expand your modes of communication, whether it’s through email, instant messaging or by phone.
5. Craft material that’s useful: Every professor has his or her own teaching style, and it’s important to reflect yours whether you’re teaching online or in person. However, in an online environment when time comes at a premium for most students, you want to make sure you’re going deep into the subject matter. Bring up relevant topics, foster an online discussion that leads to pertinent, in-depth questions and ensure these lessons are clear and understood.
All of these strategies can be achieved with the aid of peer evaluations and team assessments. Creating an online learning environment that works holistically is important to help students succeed.